Skip to main content

3 Reasons Why the Jaguars Should Sign Dawuane Smoot Ahead of Training Camp

With the Jaguars needing depth along the defensive line ahead of camp, it would make sense for the Jaguars to turn to a familiar face.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have faced questions about their pass-rush ever since the 2022 season ended. 

The questions heated up in March as Arden Key signed a free-agency deal with AFC South rival Tennessee Titans. Then the NFL Draft came and went in April and the Jaguars didn't spend a pick on the pass-rush until the fifth-round, opting to use their first three picks alone on the offensive side of the ball.

"Listen, you also can't just jump at the first thing that's there and obviously somebody has to fit your roster and fit your structure financially and all of that," Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson said during the offseason. 

"But there's going to be guys probably going into training camp, there's going to be guys coming out of training camp that we'll take a look at. But those are all things for conversations for down the road and we've been pleased with the guys that are here and been working and we just got to get them better and ready to go." 

With all of this in mind, there is one free-agent addition that would make plenty of sense for the Jaguars before training camp: Dawuane Smoot. 

Smoot has remained unsigned in free-agency to this point due to a Week 16 Achilles injury vs. the New York Jets. 

At the time of his injury, Smoot was second on the team in pressures, fourth in quarterback hits, first in sacks, and second in pass-rush win rate. He recorded five sacks in each of the last four seasons, recording 22.5 sacks in that span and often looking like Jacksonville's most consistent pass-rusher. 

So with the Jaguars' training camp set to open in just a few short weeks, here are a few reasons why adding Smoot back to the roster would make sense. 

It is a low-risk move

The Jaguars have plenty of cap space after the news of Cam Robinson's four-game suspension, but they still have never seemed like the team that was going to drop big money for a free-agent pass-rusher this summer. The Jaguars have made their splash moves in recent offseasons, so any move that Trent Baalke and Doug Pederson might make would likely be a low-risk move.

And after his injury in 2022, that is exactly what Smoot is. Smoot is a player who was deserving of a big payday after the consistent and impactful performance he put forth in 2022. He would have been in line for a solid contract in March if not for the injury, with that deal potentially even coming from the Jaguars. 

Situations have changed, unfortunately, and any deal Smoot signs now will likely be a one- or two-year deal that has protections for the team in place. Smoot is a low-risk option to sign but he has a higher ceiling than many others on the free-agency list despite his injury. 

Familiarity is a big plus 

Smoot isn't just any free-agent. Smoot has been with the Jaguars for the past six years, playing 90 games with the team in that period and becoming one of the few consistent bright spots for a franchise and locker room in transition. With a flurry of big names leaving the roster and the Jaguars going through down years in 2020 and 2021, Smoot was one familiar name who stepped up on and off the field. 

Considering Smoot knows the franchise, the city, the locker room, the coaching staff, the training staff, and the defensive scheme, there are plenty of reasons to think that his familiarity would help him acclimate after his injury. Signing a player coming off an injury is always a wait-and-see situation, but Smoot and the Jaguars' shared connection would help him get off to a quicker start than other injured players.

Smoot's fit with the Jaguars is important, but so is the Jaguars' fit with Smoot

It is obvious why Smoot would make sense for the Jaguars. The Jaguars not only don't want to break the bank for a free-agent pass-rusher, but they also likely want to add one who would be comfortable in a non-starter role. Travon Walker and Josh Allen aren't going to come off the field for the Jaguars as starters, so any veteran who isn't looking for a starter role makes sense. 

With that said, the more important fit could be the Jaguars' fit with Smoot. Smoot knows what his role in the defense would be once healthy, with him playing an inside/outside role in Mike Caldwell's defense last season. While other teams may not know exactly what Smoot can bring to their defense in 2023, the Jaguars do. The Jaguars know the kind of person and player Smoot is moreso than any other team in the NFL, which also makes them the best possible landing spot for Smoot.